Gardening for life: nature and gardens heal – Montclair Local

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Trees, like those at New Jersey Audubon’s Sherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary in Bernardsville, can contribute to a feeling of well-being. JOSE GERMAN/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

By JOSE GERMAN
For Montclair Local

Jose German is an environmental activist, Essex County certified master gardener and

climate
JOSE GERMAN

Montclair resident. He is the founder of the Northeast Earth Coalition.

Goldenrod and joe-pye weed are in bloom, and the asters’ buds are starting to open. Nesting goldfinches are flocking over drying coneflowers in search of seeds to nourish their hatchlings. Monarch butterflies are laying their last batches of eggs to produce this season’s final generation of butterflies before the migration to Mexico. A monarch caterpillar you encounter today may soon embark as an adult on a journey of thousands of miles.

If you have a vegetable garden, at this time of year you are harvesting some of the most bountiful produce of the season, from tomatoes, basil, beans, eggplants and cucumbers to carrots, kale and collard greens. While the weather stays warm, you can still plant seedlings for fall crops to harvest into November and possibly beyond; with a mild winter, kale and collards may yield food into the spring. 

Bok choy, lettuce, arugula and cilantro will also produce through the cool fall weather, but if you’ve been procrastinating up to this point it’s now best to plant them as seedlings rather than seeds.   

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READ: GARDENING FOR LIFE: ENJOYING LAZY SUMMER DAYS

READ: GARDENING FOR LIFE: HOME-GROWING A NATIONAL PARK

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Everything going on in your garden is also telling you a story about life, hope, transformations and transitions. As humans, we are also part of this process; let’s connect and synchronize our lives with nature. Native Americans have always recognized the sanctity of their natural surroundings, from animals to trees to rivers to mountains. 

Modern American society has lost this sense of sacred connection, but we are capable of rediscovering it. The first step is to go outside and observe.

The 2020 gardening season will be remembered forever as a time when people turned to gardens as sources of nourishment for the soul as well as the body in a time of stress beyond what most of us could have imagined. COVID-19 transformed the world and our lives, but it has also brought new perspectives about our social roles and appreciation of the value of nature, from the micro universes of our homes to the greatest open public spaces. 

In our suburban settings, our closest contact with nature often happens in our backyards. Those who recently discovered the wonders of growing their own food now know the joy of watching a little seed transform into an edible plant. The forced slowdown of our fast-paced lives has allowed us to pay attention to things in our gardens that we didn’t have the time to notice before. Watching pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, offers a lot of fun and learning. 

Can you distinguish the difference between a bumblebee and a honeybee? Are you aware that black swallowtail and tiger swallowtail butterflies do not migrate in the winter? When you start to learn about the meaning of the phrase “host plants for pollinators,” you begin to open a treasure chest of knowledge about nature’s harmonious connections.

In all religions, nature is a symbol of God and reflects divine oneness and perfection. It is easy to be intrigued and amazed by nature. You can be agnostic but not indifferent to the beauty of a forest, gardens in bloom, or the flight of butterflies and birds. You may know the wonder of planting a few beans in July and harvesting their bounty in August. 

Maybe you have experienced the liberating energy of being at the top of a mountain or hill as a soft breeze touches your face. How about the calming and healing effect of hiking in the woods? Or listening to the cascading sound of a waterfall or free-flowing river?

In this time of uncertainty, stress, pain, mental suffering and social unrest, let’s use our gardens and open spaces to calm our anxieties so we can listen to our bodies and minds. Let’s be mindful, too, and contribute to the healing of our planet. Your contribution is important, even if you think it is small. Get out, observe your natural surroundings, and get the message. 

Absorb, as much as you can, the transformational and therapeutic effect of nature on human behavior. Think about the butterfly’s amazing metamorphosis, from a tiny egg to a caterpillar, from a caterpillar to a cocoon, then finally to a creature of astounding beauty.  

Think about the legacy you are leaving your children and grandchildren. They will inherit a wounded planet, and everything we can do to leave our planet home in better shape than we found it needs to be done now. 

Doing nothing to protect the environment will deprive the younger generation of a livable planet. Change your consumption habits, switch to renewable energy, plant trees and pollinator gardens, support local environmental organizations, and get out and see what the world has to offer. It is worth preserving.

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Brian Scott Campbell: Home & Garden | Freight + Volume – Artsy

Arts+Leisure is thrilled to announce Home & Garden, an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by Brian Scott Campbell. Working within the bounds of a tightly defined, yet painterly and expressive visual style, the paintings on display radiate an inner mysticism and profound stillness. Seaside landscapes, country homes, and other bucolic scenes are simplified geometrically, and rendered in a muted palette of predominantly blue and gray hues. Hints of bare canvas appear through Campbell’s thin washes, emphasizing the paintings’ material nature and placing a categorical distance between the viewer and the work as an aesthetic object.
At once weathered and “hand-made”, with several pieces bearing the appearance of aged prints, the works in Home & Garden nonetheless bear a marked softness. In Dockers and For Robert, forms reduced to their simplest geometric foundations maintain a certain fuzziness, as if delineated with a finger rather than a brush. Straight lines seldom appear in Campbell’s work, lending paintings like Mid Summer a hazy, undulating quality accented by his translucent application of paint.
Campbell’s use of flashe, a vinyl based paint that dries in particularly thin layers, captures traces of his hand, preserving a complicated mesh of variable brushstrokes. On full display in Glen, densely clustered stippled brushwork alternates with long, fluid strokes, creating a parallel pictorial drama as different mark-making techniques refract off each other. In other works, Campbell manipulates the viscosity of his paint, creating alternately “wet” and “dry” passages.
As if hovering just beyond our grasp, the paintings in Home & Garden are enigmatic and nebulous, with their flat planes and thickly outlined objects suggestive of a secret ulterior meaning. Though lacking their nervous energy and horror vacui, or avoidance of empty spaces, Campbell’s paintings evoke both Outsider art, as well as referencing the grainy, roughly drawn work of Jean Dubuffet. In a collection of drawings exhibited along with the paintings, quick, energetic lines mark trees, homes, and other elements, offering a glimpse of the paintings stripped of their painterly heft. Set against the light, sparse drawings, Campbell’s extraordinary ability to conjure impressions of volume and weight is amplified, and it is indeed this duality of form and formlessness that is the crux of Home & Garden.

Brian Scott Campbell (b. 1983, Columbus, OH) received a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design, OH and an MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, NJ. Campbell has exhibited widely including shows at Stene Projects, Stockholm; Dutton, New York; Fredericks & Freiser, New York; Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York; Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York; Anna Zorina, New York; Metropolitan Art Society, Beirut (Curated by Suzanne Geiss Co. New York); Zevitas Marcus, Los Angeles; David Shelton Gallery, Houston; David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen; NADA New York and Untitled Miami Beach Art Fairs among others. His awards and residencies include Atlantic Center for the Arts Residency with artist Dana Schutz; The Macedonian Institute; a McColl Center for Visual Art Full Fellowship; a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, the Artist in the Marketplace Program, Bronx Museum, New York. Campbell’s work has been reviewed in Modern Painters / Blouin ArtInfo; Whitehot Magazine; Los Angeles Times; Contemporary Art Review LA, The Huffington Post; Hyperallergic; Glasstire; i-D Magazine / Vice; and Art Viewer, amongst others. Campbell lives and works between Denton, Texas and Reykjavík, Iceland, and is Assistant Professor in Drawing and Painting at The College of Visual Arts and Design at The University of North Texas.

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Staten Island Home of the Week: ‘Storybook’ English-Tudor, Grasmere, $2.5M – SILive.com

This five-bedroom, three-bathroom custom-built home is “just 10 miles from Wall Street” at 78 Windermere Road, Grasmere.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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It is priced at  $2,499,000  according to the listing on SILive.com.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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“As you walk up the stone path to the house you are met by an English Garden right out of a magazine. The stone exterior was painstakingly restored to its original condition and the slate roof/copper gutters were recently replaced for a totally maintenance free exterior,” as listed.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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The listing on Staten Island Multiple Listing Service at SIBOR.com states that the home’s kitchen features  “custom cherry wood cabinetry and granite countertops; the tumbled marble floor is beautiful and durable at the same time. The kitchen also includes  a Viking stove and commercial exhaust. There is also a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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“The dining room located across from the kitchen is the perfect area for the family to gather.There is also a large window overlooking the pool and stone patio,” according to the listing.

“Also included are private lake rights and a summer beach club located just 500 feet down the road at the only private freshwater lake on Staten Island,” as listed.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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Andrew S. Porazzo/Connie Profaci Realty is the listing agent. (Courtesy Staten Island Board of Realtors)

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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Coming up: Home, garden and outdoor events – The Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus Dispatch

COMING UP

Coming up is a calendar of upcoming home, garden and outdoor events in the Columbus area. Send items at least two weeks in advance to bkover@dispatch.com

Declaring victory

What: Victory Gardens in the 21st century will teach the lessons of Victory Gardens to address current food and sustainability issues.

Where: Columbus Garden School online class

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Details: $10; visit ColumbusGardenSchool.com to register

Planted by science

What: This Plant Science 101 class demystifies the perplexity of grown plants.

Where: Franklin Park Conservatory online class via Zoom

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

Details: $25; instructor is master gardener Kimberly Kincaid; register at fpconservatory.org.

A cut above

What: Gain confidence in pruning with this tree-pruning workshop.

Where: Franklin Park Conservatory online class via Zoom

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Details: $25, taught by master gardener Bill Johnson; register at fpconservatory.com.

Scrappy class

What: Learn to turn kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutritious garden compost in this Backyard Composting class

Where: Columbus Garden School online class

When: 1 p.m. Oct. 19

Details: $10; visit ColumbusGardenSchool.com to register

Steve Stephens

sstephens@dispatch.com

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Southern Gardening: Use Telstar dianthus for cool season color – The Commercial Dispatch

One of the attributes I look for when choosing annual color plants is how hardworking they will be in my home landscape.

While I know garden chores are an integral part of the landscape game, I like my garden and landscape to be relaxing. I don’t like to change out color every month. If you do, that’s fine, and you might not be interested in what I have to say next. But I personally like easy.

When we get into the cool season — and yes, we’re finally getting the cooler weather we’ve been waiting for since COVID struck — we have many choices for long-lasting, multiseason annual color. Planting now lets the plants develop a robust root system to sustain them almost all winter long.

A big root system helps plants look great, carry color all through the fall and still put on a beautiful and colorful display in the coming spring.

That’s why I love Telstar dianthus; it checks off all the boxes on my list.

The Telstar series of dianthus has great flower colors ranging from carmine rose, pink and purple to almost red. I really like the picotee selections, which have pretty bicolor flowers. Flower petals have a delicate serration on the margins.

Telstar dianthus has a uniform growing habit and only gets about 10 inches tall and wide. This makes it a perfect mass-planting choice, whether in a raised planting bed or container.

We are rapidly moving towards winter and its associated cold weather.

In my coastal Mississippi garden, freezing temperatures will damage any open Telstar flowers. And there’s always the possibility that the foliage may start to show purplish colors, which I like to tell fellow gardeners indicates that the plants are shivering. But this far south, the plants will recover and resume flowering.

In northern Mississippi, I think it would be easier to enjoy the fall flower display and simply replant in the spring.

The Telstar series is easy to grow and maintain. For best performance, always plant in the full sun in well-drained soil.

Dianthuses are susceptible to root disease problems and don’t like their feet wet. This is a concern in our cool, wet fall and winter seasons. For this reason, growing in containers is my preferred strategy, and these plants always look great in my self-watering containers.

Telstar dianthuses also make great partners in my cool-season combination containers. I really like to combine them with the spreading Cool Wave pansies.

These plants are moderate to heavy feeders all through their growing season. I always add some good, controlled-release fertilizer at transplanting, and then I supplement monthly with water-soluble fertilizer when watering.

You can encourage Telstar dianthus to produce more flowers by pinching them back a couple of inches after the first flower flush. This stimulates more lateral growth and more flowers.

If you are intrigued by this plant, head out to the garden centers early for the best choices. But, if they don’t have any Telstar dianthuses, you’re not out of luck because I’ve always found excellent, generic dianthus that will look great in your fall, winter and spring landscapes and gardens.

Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at [email protected]

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Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion still on market | Home and Garden – NNY360

PALM BEACH, Fla. — It’s located in one of the most envied and desirable towns in the world, and yet a seemingly well-priced 14,000-square-foot mansion for sale here is languishing, despite its six bedrooms, seven baths, a large swimming pool and frontage along the Intracoastal Waterway.

That mansion in Palm Beach belonged to the late, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, and although it’s been for sale since early July there are apparently no takers so far. The price for the mansion with southern exposure and water views remains fixed at just a hair under $22 million.

It is one of at least three homes the Epstein estate is selling as part of the liquidation of his assets, including one on a private island in the Virgin Islands and one in Manhattan.

The Corcoran Group was tapped to offer the Palm Beach mansion for sale. Large homes in exotic locales can be a plum assignment, but this home’s sordid past would overshadow any curb appeal. Its Palm Beach listing agent, Kerry Warwick, declined a request to allow McClatchy and the Miami Herald to accompany her on a future showing. She also declined to discuss why the luxury property, just a mile from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where Epstein used to visit, is not selling.

“You can call our New York office,” she said.

At New York headquarters of the Corcoran Group there was also little desire to discuss sale of the mansion now infamous as one of the multiple places Epstein’s accusers say the mysterious, high-flying businessman with friends in high places abused them when they were minors. A Corcoran representative said there was nothing to add beyond what Warwick shared with The Wall Street Journal in July.

Epstein’s home is certainly not the first notorious South Florida mansion to hit the market. Gianni Versace’s Miami home on South Beach was sold after his headline-grabbing murder in 1997 and remains a curiosity for tourists to this day.

But that mansion is smack in the middle of a bustling hot spot for nightlife. Epstein’s Palm Beach home, associated with ghoulish events, sits at the end of a sedate tree-lined street where many occupants of nearby gated mansions are only there for the winter months.

A recent drive down El Brillo Way at nighttime, with the intent of checking if anyone was still occupying the Epstein residence, was eerie. Hardly a mansion on the street had inside lights on. The next morning, gardeners spread out and feverishly trimmed the tropical foliage along the otherwise empty street.

One factor weighing against sale of the gated Epstein mansion may be that it’s older and boxy, lacking the eccentricities of other homes on the block. It was designed by John Volk, a prominent architect in the 1950s whose name is synonymous with the development of Palm Beach.

With its westerly views of Tarpon and Everglades islands, the Epstein home has land value but lacks pizazz. It has a different feel than most of the Venetian and Mediterranean style mansions in the Estate Section of Palm Beach. Those European looks were the hallmark of Addison Mizner, among the most sought-after architects in America’s Gilded Era of the 1920s, whose thumbprint remains across South Florida.

In fact, Murray Gell-Mann, a Nobel-winning scientist befriended by Epstein, once described the Palm Beach residence to a friend as “ugly and unremarkable,” lacking any charm.

Epstein bought the Palm Beach mansion in September 1990 for $2.5 million, according to Palm Beach property records. In December 2011, Epstein transferred ownership rights on the home to an offshore company, filing paperwork that transferred the property to a shell company called Laurel Inc. that he’d established a month earlier in the U.S. Virgin Islands, his principle residence.

The Palm Beach mansion is being offered at nearly $20 million more than the original purchase price. And it’s still at a discount compared to similar homes in the area.

One of the few neighbors who was around in mid-September was in the middle of reconstruction of his entrance way that sits across from the Epstein mansion. Eduard de Guardiola, a retired Atlanta real estate executive who now buys and sells local mansions in Palm Beach County, said he didn’t know what sort of traffic the Epstein home was drawing because he had been away for much of the summer.

Not long after Epstein’s reported death by hanging in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019, the gate outside of Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion was vandalized with red spray paint. De Guardiola hadn’t noticed any recent pickup of onlookers or curiosity seekers, and as a veteran of the rough-and-tumble world of real estate he did not expect the notoriety of the home to stall its eventual sale.

Proceeds of the eventual Palm Beach sale are expected to flow in part to the Epstein Victims Compensation Fund, which began operating in late June, independent of the Epstein estate. It is already receiving dozens of claims from victims using the nonjudicial process to stay out of the headlines while seeking compensation and closure for being sexually abused by Epstein, often when they were minors.

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Colorado Springs area home and garden events starting Oct. 10 – Colorado Springs Gazette

WEDNESDAY

History of Victory Gardens/Grow and Give Webinar — Hosted by Colorado Master Gardeners Lunch & Learn, noon-1 p.m., free. Registration required: tinyurl.com/ya6qyu2l.

OCT. 21

Houseplants Webinar — Hosted by Colorado Master Gardeners Lunch & Learn, noon-1 p.m., free. Registration required: tinyurl.com/ya6qyu2l.

OCT. 28

Cool Tools — Sharpening & Maintenance, Favorite Tools & Gift Ideas Webinar — Hosted by Colorado Master Gardeners Lunch & Learn, noon-1 p.m., free. Registration required: tinyurl.com/ya6qyu2l.

Email information for the Home and Garden Calendar at least two weeks in advance: listings@gazette.com.

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Ask a Master Gardener: Growing shallots | Home And Garden – NRToday.com

Question: Is it too late to plant shallots? Last year my shallots were very small. How can I grow larger shallots?

Answer: No, it is not too late, but you should plant them soon.

Traditionally, shallots are planted around the second Monday in October. Shallots are well adapted to the Umpqua valley’s wet, cool winters and dry summers and will produce a nice harvest of large shallot bulbs in early July.

Although shallots can be grown from seed, it is best to grow shallots from bulbs (sets). You can buy shallot bulbs from local nursery centers, from vendors at the Farmer’s Market or from a large number of online seed companies. The shallots at the grocery stores have been treated to reduce sprouting so that is not a good source.

There are a good number of different varieties of shallots available. They come in different colors, shapes and sizes. Each bulb you plant will produce three to seven new bulbs. Once you start to grow shallots, you can replant a portion of your crop for the next year. This means you never have to buy seed shallots again!

Shallots have very short roots, so it is important to keep water and nutrients close by. Although shallots can tolerate heavy soils because the bulbs form on top of the soil, well-amended soil will produce more and larger shallot bulbs. Prepare your soil by digging in a good bit of compost and a little fertilizer to a depth of at least one foot.

Set up your irrigation system as you will need to provide regular irrigation until the rains start in the fall and then again in the early summer. You can hand water shallots, but I prefer to use a T-Tape irrigation system because it does not get the leaves or soil surface wet. Not wetting the leaves reduces disease, while dry soil reduces weed seed germination.

Once your soil is ready, plant individual shallot bulbs on 4-5 inch centers. It is critical that you plant the bulbs with the root end down. If this does not happen, the shallots will not form correctly. The bulbs should be simply pressed into the soil until the top of the bulb is just at or just below the top of the soil. Leaving a little bit of the bulb sticking out will be perfect.

Finish off by irrigating them well and setting up an irrigation schedule that will keep them moist but not water logged until the winter rains start.

In a few weeks, they should sprout and grow to about a foot high before winter sets in and they stop growing. Keep your shallot plot weed-free, as shallots do not compete well against weeds. In late February, give your shallots a bit more fertilizer. This will get them ready to take off as soon as the weather warms up.

When the rains stop in the spring, start regular irrigation and continue to control weeds. Your shallots may send up a flower stalk. If that happens, cut the stalk out just above where it emerges from the stem. This will force the shallot to focus its energy on growing larger bulbs.

By early July consider reducing the irrigation. Late in June, the outer leaves will start to yellow. When most, if not all, the leaves have turned brown, harvest your shallots. To harvest, gently lift the whole plant out of the soil and gently remove any large bits of soil hanging on the roots.

Lay the whole plant out in a single layer, out of direct sunlight, to cure for about two weeks. After they have cured, you can cut the stems off, remove any remaining soil and store in a cool, dark place. Your shallots should store for about a year. Set aside the largest bulbs to plant for the following season.

I hope you enjoy growing and eating your home-grown shallots.

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Kinzler: Squirrel stashing nuts, odd squash and sour apples – West Central Tribune

A: From the shape, I think you’re correct about them being from a butternut tree, whose botanical name is Juglans cinerea. Butternut is more borderline in winter hardiness than its close cousin the black walnut, which is Juglans nigra. Black walnut fruit are more rounded and butternut fruit are more lemon-shaped, which the fruit in the photo seem to be. Inside these fruits are the walnutlike nuts.

It’s fairly common for squirrels to gather black walnut seeds and “squirrel them away” in odd places, such as people’s flower planters, flower beds and gardens, where they sprout the following spring. I’ve seen the fruits piled in little crevices at the base of trees, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them embedded in the bark the way your photo shows.

The presence of these fruits in your maple tree shows that there must be a mature butternut tree somewhere close by.

RELATED COLUMNS: Skip raking and mow over leaves this fall for a healthier lawn | Mushrooms on tree, fall tilling and sand cherry pruning | Creeping Charlie, trimming evergreens and ripening pumpkins | Saving seeds, quackgrass control and tiny apple conundrum | Ailing Autumn Blaze, Honeycrisp ripeness and wasps in the wall

Q: I found a squash that’s light green, the size of a pumpkin, and it’s the only one like it in the squash patch. All the rest are the normal buttercup squash. I’m wondering what would cause this? — Harold P.

A: The lone squash of a different type that you found in the buttercup patch is most likely the result of a seed in the original seed packet that was of that type. Occasionally seed mix-ups happen in packaging seeds, which is understandable when seed types look nearly identical, as with various types of squash.

One easy explanation of mix-ups is in the equipment used to package seeds. When one batch of squash seed is run through the machinery and the machine is cleaned before switching to another type of squash, one seed clinging in a crevice can easily end up in the packet of the next type.

It might mistakenly be thought that this was the result of some type of cross-pollination in your garden. That wouldn’t be the case, because any type of cross-pollination in your buttercup squash affects the seeds inside the fruit, not the appearance or size of the fruit itself. It will be interesting for you to sample the squash.

Q: I have a Haralred apple tree and the apples are big and so nice but very sour. Next door there’s a flowering crab tree, and I’m wondering if it pollinated with my Haralred apple tree, making the apples sour. Is that possible? I’m not sure what to do with the apples. I’m going to wait for a hard freeze to see if they will sweeten. — Betty S.

A: Haralred apples don’t ripen fully until well into October, so they should be left on the tree as long as possible, as cooler temperatures promote the conversion of starches into sugars. Haralred is a redder-skinned version of Haralson, and both can be quite tart if sampled in September. By now, we’ve had more frosts, and hopefully the apples have begun to taste less tart.

There’s no need to worry about cross-pollination affecting the fruit. Apple trees actually require cross-pollination from a variety different than itself to produce fruit. Flowering crabs are great sources of pollen, as bees fly among trees. The pollen affects only the seeds inside the fruit, not the fruit itself or its quality. That’s why if you plant a seed from inside one of your Haralred apples, the resulting seedling will be different, depending on where the pollen came from.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler, NDSU Extension-Cass County, at donald.kinzler@ndsu.edu or call 701-241-5707. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice.

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Garden Mastery: Chrysanthemums fill our region with brilliant fall colors – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Our gardening neighbors in the Midwestern, Eastern and Northern states welcome their fall season in predictable ways. The sun rises later in the morning, setting a bit earlier in the evening. Nighttime temperatures begin to dip. Bird species begin their southward migration to warmer climates. The real fall showstopper in these parts of our country is the dazzling display of leaves beginning to change color, from gold to reddish-orange, from crimson to brown.

The Southern California fall season is shorter in duration. Changes to our landscape and gardens arrive slowly, are more subtle and are too soon gone. While we don’t have the display of leaves changing color all around us, we do begin to notice that our garden plants are now beyond their peak, and bloomers have finished flowering.

It’s at this time of year that I wish for just a little something to brighten up my garden landscape. And then I find just what I was wishing for — at the supermarket, of all places! I spot rows of potted chrysanthemums, all wrapped in vivid foil colors. Yes, fall has arrived in Southern California.

These past several months, you may not have been able to travel farther than your local grocery or home improvement store. So, let me invite you to a virtual armchair “historical tour” on chrysanthemums. We’ll travel far and back in time to learn about this flower and plant.

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Chrysanthemums, often called by their shortened name “mums,” naturally flower in the fall when days are short and nights are long. With blooms lasting for weeks, mums are easy to grow and come in a variety of sizes and colors. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of them by their common names: pompon, button, spray, cushion, spider and florist’s mums, a special variety bred to have long stems. Did you know that mums also enjoy some interesting symbolic meanings? Depending on which part of the world you come from, the flower can symbolize life and vitality, or death and sorrow.

Chrysanthemums are in the Asteraceae plant family and have a long and interesting history. Originating in Asia, where they were cultivated as a medicinal herb, chrysanthemums were introduced to Japan in the fifth century and are considered a symbol of the country itself. The Japanese call the chrysanthemum “kiku”; the flower blossom is the imperial crest for the Japanese royal family and is the country’s national flower. By the 17th century, the chrysanthemum was brought to Europe. The first flowers seen by Europeans may have been small, yellow and daisylike. Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, gave the chrysanthemum its Latin name from the Greek words chrysous, meaning “golden,” and anthemon, meaning “flower.”

First introduced to the U.S. during colonial times, the chrysanthemum gained ever-increasing popularity by the late 19th century with garden clubs promoting their special collections of new varieties. Today, gardeners can learn about all chrysanthemum flower types from the National Chrysanthemum Society’s classification system. The society’s website lists the flowers according to 13 different bloom or petal “forms,” from in-curved, to reflex, single, semi-double, even spoon blossoms that have petals ending with a spoon shape. You’re certain to find a chrysanthemum for every color, scent, texture and shape imaginable. Many botanic gardens (Longwood Gardens, New York Botanical Garden) feature chrysanthemum festivals or exhibits each fall. Behind the scenes, staff gardeners work patiently to cultivate and display a variety of chrysanthemum “forms” by shaping the blossoms into flowering cascades of all types.

In 2018, the UC Master Gardener Program of San Diego County developed a program called “Reminiscence Gardening.” This program is facilitated by Master Gardener volunteers who provide gardening activities at memory care communities across San Diego County and at Alzheimer’s San Diego. Tabletop gardening sensory activities have been created for individuals to touch, feel, see and smell plants of varied colors, scents and textures. With chrysanthemums available in so many varieties, sizes and colors at this time of the year, these flowers are included in many of the “Reminiscence Gardening” sensory activities.

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If you plant potted chrysanthemums in the ground this fall and they survive the winter, you can encourage new growth in the spring by pinching back the stems that have new leaves. Pinching is squeezing them between your thumb and forefinger and removing the new stems. You’ll see additional stems branching out, and you’ll have more blooms next fall.

You may have heard the phrase “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Gardeners are an optimistic bunch. Here’s hoping that your travel plans for next fall will not be limited to virtual armchair tours. Perhaps you’ll be able to visit a chrysanthemum festival at a botanical garden or take a scenic drive and see the splendor of leaves changing color. In the interim, let’s all be thankful for the potted mums that we find at our neighborhood supermarkets and home improvement stores.

Purcell Montag is a UC Master Gardener who also enjoys travel, history, writing, genealogy and speaking Spanish.

Additional help:

The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program provides details on pests that may afflict your chrysanthemums. The Master Gardener Association of San Diego County is involved in a variety of outreach programs, including a hotline, to provide answers to specific questions. Get free gardening advice on the Master Gardener Hotline, (858) 822-6910, or by email. Due to COVID-19, the Master Gardener Hotline staff members are working remotely to ensure they respond to your questions in a timely manner.

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